Emotional wellness is an important aspect of mental health that allows you to maintain a healthy lifestyle, while still being able to handle the stress of daily life.

Within this section you will find information on what defines emotional wellness and how it can affect life with CF, key components that contribute to emotional wellness, and strategies to help develop and maintain emotional wellness.

Emotional wellness is part of mental health that helps you cope with challenging life events. Over time, how you respond to stressors has long-term effects on your physical and mental wellbeing.

Emotional wellness can look different for many people. However, a common theme in those with healthy emotional wellness is that they can adapt to changes in their life and look at these changes as opportunities to use their coping skills.

It is important for people living with CF to learn about the different ways to develop and maintain healthy emotional wellness. Living with CF on a day-to-day basis and managing symptoms are only a few factors that may cause stress and can challenge your mental health. By growing your emotional wellness, you can better equip yourself with the tools needed to deal with stressors and achieve your optimal health.

There are several factors that can contribute to emotional wellness which include:

  • Sleep: Getting enough, quality sleep
  • Social supports: Making and maintaining social relationships
  • Stress: Reducing the amount of stress you encounter daily
  • Mindfulness: Practicing awareness, acceptance and being consciously present in your care and other aspects of your life
  • Exercise: Getting enough movement and exercise throughout the day
  • Confidence: Building your confidence

Findings ways to enhance these factors will increase your emotional wellness and prepare you for challenges in your care and life.

Every person with CF is unique and will have their own challenges within their care and life. However, there are some common obstacles the CF population will face that you may relate to or experience. Below you will find some factors that may challenge your mental health and put your emotional wellness to the test:

Financial Support
Whether you are newly diagnosed or have lived with CF, the stress of having to financially support your health can be overwhelming. Taking time off work due to your health, communicating with your insurance provider and the added financial burden of treatment is to be expected. This can put some strain on your mental health as it may place you in a constant state of worry about how you will be able to support your care.

As an individual living with chronic illness, it can be difficult to uphold other aspects of your identity especially when CF plays such a huge role in your life. Making time for the things you enjoy and spending time with your loved ones may also be impacted by CF.

Substance Misuse
Living with CF while experiencing substance misuse can put a lot of strain on your physical and mental wellbeing. It can be difficult to juggle both and can be especially challenging if you do not have enough social support.

Transition to Adult CF Clinic
Navigating your own health as a young adult, handling your care and overseeing your treatment can be overwhelming. Learning how to do so can also be stressful and you may feel like the journey to optimizing your health is lonesome.

Social Relationships
Starting, maintaining and even ending relationships is a part of life that can be especially difficult for people living with CF. Whether it is family, friends or other loved ones, your relationships will influence your health. For some people, this responsibility can be difficult to handle.

As a parent, it can be difficult to maintain your health and stay vigilant with your care when you also must care for your children. Living with CF as a parent can be both physically and mentally draining, causing at times stress, frustration and anger.

Juggling Responsibilities
Work, school, family, friends, hobbies and life in general all come with their own set of responsibilities that you have to balance. CF can heavily impact this balance. Maintaining or changing your life to accommodate CF can be difficult and may force you to reevaluate what you can handle and where you will require support.

The treatments and interventions associated with CF are time-consuming and require a lot of effort and diligence on your part. Keeping up with medication schedules, performing physio routines and attending your appointments can be overwhelming. Staying consistent with your care is important, but this may be a challenge, especially if you are independent or do not have enough social support.

Burden of Care
Living with CF comes with a lot of responsibility that can be difficult for you, your loved ones and social supports to handle. You may experience fear or worry that your care and the support you require is too much, which can influence how you interact with your loved ones.

You may feel anxious and go through experiences of depression throughout your life with CF, which can vary in your different life stages. As a young adult, you may feel hopeless about your care and worry about your future and social relationships. As an adult, you may face uncertainty about your life and question if achieving certain goals is even worth it. You may have social anxieties and fear the experience of meeting new people, wondering if you will be accepted. These feelings and thoughts are completely valid and can be expected.

Patients with CF have a unique relationship with COVID-19, such that you may have a heightened fear of getting sick and worsening your progress with CF.

Adjusting to life with CF can be hard, especially if you are newly diagnosed. It can also be overwhelming if you have begun treatment with modulators and are now experiencing the positive effects of treatment. Adjusting to these types of changes takes a lot of mental strength and may affect your emotional wellness.

Dealing with the loss of a loved one, missing out on certain opportunities, losing financial security, facing health deterioration and losing relationship stability are some challenges where it can be easy to lose yourself in grief and neglect your care.

Suicide/Self Harm
The thought of ending your life or causing harm to yourself, especially when you are faced with a chronic illness, can be difficult to discuss and may cause feelings of helplessness, avoidance, isolation and fear. Being vulnerable enough to be open about these feelings is hard but necessary to allow yourself to access supportive care, from both loved ones and your healthcare team.

Caregiver Support
Your caregivers may be experiencing challenges with providing supportive care and maintaining their own responsibilities. It is important that you and your caregivers discuss these challenges and work together to find solutions to address any burden on your mental health and self-efficacy.

One important thing to consider is that you are your best advocate for your emotional wellness and ultimately, your mental wellbeing. It can be challenging to be vulnerable with this aspect of health. However, building your confidence, resilience and emotional strength can really make a difference in achieving your goals and optimizing your physical health.

You can foster your emotional wellness in several ways, and you do not have to do it alone. Referring to the factors that contribute to emotional wellness, you can find ways to enhance these factors such as those listed below:

Take control of your situation by really understanding your illness and what you require to maximize your care, such as asking about medication administration. Communicate with your social supports and healthcare team about your emotional wellness. Write down what you would like to discuss in your appointment and call attention to your concerns. Take part in activities where you excel and surround yourself with people who make you feel comfortable and confident in yourself.

Prioritize a healthy sleep schedule by setting a time in the evening when you can comfortably and consistently go to sleep. Avoid using your phone, laptop or other devices before going to bed and perhaps take a warm bath before bed to relax your mind. Consider having a non-caffeinated beverage to put your body at ease and prepare you for sleep.

Practice mindfulness to recognize the situations that cause your body and mind to be stressed (anxious, fidgeting, avoiding responsibility, trouble sleeping, etc.) and acknowledge that you must work to minimize these events. Prioritize your tasks for the day so that you can remain focus on what is important to you and needs your full attention

Social Supports
Surround yourself with social supports that are active and willing to participate in your care. Find people who make you feel safe and people who you can confide in when the stress of CF starts to become burdensome. Prioritize time to be open about the successes and challenges in your care to your social supports.

Be present in your care by being active in your appointments and asking questions when you require clarity. Be present in your daily life by practicing gratitude (e.g., each day reflect on 3 things that you are grateful for and drive you to achieve your health goals and be your best self).

Do your best to participate in moderate exercise (if tolerable) every day for at least 30 minutes. Perhaps ask a friend or loved one to accompany you to an exercise session or class, like a spin class or the gym. If moderate exercise is challenging, try some low-intensity workouts like taking walks, doing yoga or active stretching. Make sure to stay on top of any medications that will help support your body through your exercise regimen.

There are many resources that can support your mental health and emotional wellness. Below you will find links to various resources that will address different aspects of mental health. They will provide you and your social supports with information, skills and people that can support your care.

Mindshift – https://www.anxietybc.com/resources/mindshift-app

Headspace – https://www.headspace.com/

Breathe2Relax (Android app) – https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.t2health.breathe2relax&hl=en&gl=US

Mindfulness Coach – https://www.ptsd.va.gov/appvid/mobile/index.asp

RelaxMeditation (iPhone app) – https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/relax-meditation-mindfulness-sleep-sounds-noise/id367506176?mt=8

Smiling Mind (iPhone & Android app) – https://www.smilingmind.com.au/smiling-mind-app

The Ontario Caregiver Association – https://ontariocaregiver.ca

In addition to the resources listed, our CF clinic may also provide follow-up care regarding your mental and emotional wellbeing. Our social work team may be able to offer a 8–10-week course of focused, supportive counselling/ or therapy after completing an assessment. They will determine when service can be offered as you may need to be placed on a wait list. They can help you address any concerns, feelings, and experiences that are significant to you and your health care.

You can help others too! Talk to your healthcare provider about resources that you think will help. The bigger the selection of resources, the more we can help each other achieve our goals. Your feedback is welcomed and valued.